Archive

Posts Tagged ‘spiritual intimacy’

Spiritual Intimacy

November 14th, 2014

“That I may know Christ.” Philippians 3:10 NKJV.

Relational integrity is essential for spiritual intimacy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “spiritual intimacy.”

Life requires purpose and a superceding objective. Your purpose has to be consequential enough to weather the demands life will require of you and influential enough to empower you to give the effort necessary to achieve and excel. Any person is insufficiently inspired who lacks an objective worthy of the sacrifices needed. The greatest purpose is knowing Jesus Christ in a practical, personal, and intimate way. His intent is that you, “. . know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Read Ephesians 3:17-20 NIV.

Intellectual knowledge alone is inadequate for the personal and experiential knowledge of Christ that Paul sought. He desired a transformative experience of soul and spirit that redeems the heart (See Romans 7:15-26 NIV) and forever alters the desires and direction of one’s life. Read Acts 9:1-6. Subsequently, Paul pledged a devotion to Christ that did not exclude the most severe of mortal threats. “None of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself . .” See Acts 20:22-24.

Relational integrity is essential for spiritual intimacy. Information without corresponding experience becomes intellectual, without relational integrity. As I intend, “relational integrity” describes a commitment to absolute authenticity in relating to God or others. Authenticity is the only enduring basis for real intimacy. Worse yet, intellectual information without corresponding, spiritual experience immunizes you from a real and vital relationship with God.

As a young, college student preparing for ministry, I prayed that Paul’s passion for Christ would be my passion as well. “That I may know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians 3:10. This verse became, and remains today, my “life verse.” Paul’s words describe my purpose and objective. I am committed to daily experience an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Paul’s passion to “know Christ,” expressed an unparalleled intimacy, with disregard for suffering or sacrifice. The same expression is found in the Old Testament, “Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived . .” (Genesis 4:1), as well as in the New Testament, describing Mary’s incredulity at the angel’s announcement, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Luke 1:30-38. The word expresses experiential knowledge that forcefully creates and releases new life. Do not be content to know about God, without experiencing Christ personally and powerfully. Anything less is inadequate.

Passionately, Paul desired an encounter with Jesus that releases God’s power and new life, in and through him. Such spiritual intimacy evidences itself in a power for life that is linked to and sourced from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. See Ephesians 1:17-21 NIV. Nothing you encounter will ever prove His Resurrection power insufficient. In Jesus’ resurrection, God turned apparent defeat into glorious triumph.  Whatever is broken in your life can be fixed. What seems listless and lifeless can receive life abundantly.

If you desire anything more than Him, then your passion to know Him as He desires to be known is lacking. Jesus was clear, “And this is the way to have eternal life – to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the One You have sent to earth.”  John 17:3 NLT. There is a depth of relationship that results from intimate fellowship experienced with God through Christ. Only then will you know the power that flows from His Resurrection into the very circumstances where you walk and live every day.

Today, my prayer for you is to know Jesus to the extent you could never again be the same.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Relationships

May 9th, 2014

“A person is a fool to . . not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT.

A right relationship is the entry point for a rich relationship, both life-long and eternal.

My thoughts and comments today are about “relationships.”

Life is about relationships. The best of life is empty without them. You may seem to have everything, but if you lack mutual and meaningful relationships what you have will never be what you desire. The best of good things can never substitute for a heartfelt closeness with family and friends. That’s where true richness of life can be found, but with one very important addition. A righteous relationship with God is the most important relationship you will ever have.

It is easy to be occupied with what you think God wants from you, and offer Him many good and worthwhile things. All the while, you could fail to give God the one thing He most wants – yourself. God is not dependent on you and me for anything that He cannot readily and abundantly provide for Himself, except for one thing that only you can give Him, your love and your life. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Read Romans 12:1-2 NKJV. Your life is a gift from God; what you do with your life is your gift to God.

What God most wants from you, and wants most for you, is a rich relationship with Him, for you to experience spiritual intimacy that is fulfilling and life affirming. Jesus exposed the foolishness of lacking that relationship, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Read Luke 12:16-21 NLT. Be wise, not foolish. Jesus does not teach against wealth. He warns against the foolishness of thinking that anything could ever be enough without a rich, personal relationship with God. This warning is not just about wealth; Jesus warns of accepting anything or anyone as a substitute for the singular relationship you cannot be without.

“Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment . . they should be rich in good works . . by doing this they will be storing up treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19 NLT. Only a genuine relationship with God “gives us all we need for our enjoyment . . as a good foundation for the future.”

Life is about relationships. Spiritual life is not about religion; your spiritual life is about righteous relationships – a real, personal relationship with God and right relatedness with others that begins now and continues throughout eternity. Jesus’ sacrifice was to reconcile you to God. “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God.” Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV. Offering you a right relationship is the entry point for a rich relationship with God, both life-long and eternal.

What would such a relationship with God would look like for you? As importantly, what do you think would be required of you to have such a relationship with God? I would suggest that a rich relationship with God would be mutual, authentic, practical, loving, continually transforming, and always growing.

My prayer for you today is to know God in a way that transforms all you are and do.

90709

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , ,

Near to God

January 18th, 2013

Spiritual intimacy requires intention and initiative.

“Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 NLT.

Have you noticed that you feel loneliness when isolated from the company of others? You are at your best and happiest when enjoying a comfortable lifestyle that allows plenty of room for others. God created you to enjoy community with others and fellowship with Him. Your Adversary desires your isolation from others and your separation from God, if you will allow it. The Incarnation, when God came into our world, evidenced God’s desire for your fellowship. John marveled that “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us . .” John 1:14 NIV. Spiritually, you are safest when nearest to God and living happily alongside others.

James, the brother of Jesus, urged, “Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 NLT. Spiritual intimacy requires intention and initiative. What would being “close to God” mean to you? The promise is clear; the process is just as evident. When you move in God’s direction, you will always find God responding in kind. But how do you draw close to God? James describes the process simply. Drawing close to God is evidenced by two deliberate actions by you, “Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil . .” and a corresponding reaction by the Devil, “. . and he will flee from you!” James 4:7 NLT. The sincerity of the first determines the success of the latter. I am reminded of Solomon’s proverb, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 NIV. Get things right with God and you will find things better with others.

Humility is the proper posture of heart for a right relationship with God and others. How you walk with others will often reflect your heart attitude before God. Peter echoed the principle of humility this way, “All of you, [young and old], clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may exalt you in due time” . . when you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on Him [humble yourself], He will lift you up and give you honor.” 1 Peter 5:5-6/10 NIV. Read Colossians 3:12-17 NKJV.

Any relationship either grows or diminishes, not long remaining as they were.By their nature, relationships are dynamic, not static. That is also true of your personal and spiritual relationship with God. Any distance that occurs between you and God results from your lack of initiative, not His. A healthy, growing relationship requires your vigilance in giving a priority of time and attention.

Jesus’ coming gave lasting proof of God’s passion for closeness with you, who are made “in His image and likeness.” The invitation is His; the initiative is yours, “Draw close to God and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 NLT. When you are closer, it just feels right. “For You created everything, and it is for Your pleasure that they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11 NLT. God finds pleasure in your company; you will find your ultimate fulfillment in His.

My prayer for you today is that your heart draws ever closer to God’s heart.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There For You

August 26th, 2011

“No one came to my support . . but the Lord stood at my side.” 2 Timothy 4:16-17 NIV

“People who rise to greatness have probably had a solitary experience with God alone.”

My thoughts today are about “there for you.”

Most people have had an experience when someone you counted on didn’t show up when you needed them. You felt alone, threatened and frightened. There is no lonelier moment. F. Scott Fitzgerald called that “the dark night of the soul.” American author 1896-1940. The crowd will not always be there for you. Sometimes friends won’t be. There are times in a person’s life when few are able to walk alongside, some times when none can.

That’s when who you are and what you believe deep down in your heart will be revealed. In such experiences, you discover much about yourself. The person who never knows moments bereft of human companionship never really knows a richness of fellowship God intends. I think that men who rise to greatness have probably had that solitary experience, when conviction replaces opinion, when friends replace casual acquaintance, where you either despair of life or meet God face to face.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was tempted in solitude, in a lonely wilderness where no man could stand alongside, as the devil challenged Him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. “Then the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered to Him.” Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV. In the closing hours of Jesus’ earthly time and just moments before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus was left alone in Gethsemane while His closest companions slept. “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” Luke 22:39-46 NKJV.

Paul described one of those dark nights of the soul. He was a prisoner, wrongly accused and jailed. His frequent traveling companions could not be with him. Listen to his words, “No one came to my support, but everyone deserted me . . But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” 2 Timothy 4:16-17 NIV. Don’t blame others; God isn’t taking them where He is leading you. When others can’t or won’t be there for you, God is! Those are life-changing moments when the God you previously knew about, becomes your God that you know personally and powerfully.

Whatever price you ultimately pay for that kind of knowledge of God’s character and personal experience of spiritual intimacy is never regretted, yielding expansive dividends lifelong. Paul affirmed another such time, “Our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless, God who comforts the downcast, comforted us . .” 2 Corinthians 7:5-6 NKJV.

Your faith needs a testimony of “nevertheless, God” moments that proclaim the faithfulness of God to you, times where you “found grace to help in time of trouble.” Hebrews 4:16 NKJV. He is God who is there for you!

My prayer for you today is that you prize God’s company above all other companions.

Devotionals , , , , , , , , ,